In the fallout of last November, as liberals and conservatives both attempted to make sense of Trump’s election, an odd and unlikely figure emerged: former British conservative MP Louise Mensch, who became the leading figure in what was essentially a liberal conspiracy movement dedicated to propagating wildly outlandish theories about the president.
Together with a man named Claude Taylor — tweeting under the handle @TrueFactsStated — Mensch began posting “scoops,” which were often unsupported and far-fetched, but which she nonetheless claimed to have received from legit sources — and which tended to go viral.
Chief among those claims was the contention that Donald Trump has already been indicted, impeached, and removed from office by secret court proceedings. To anyone with half a brain, it scanned as ludicrous. To people still desperately searching for an explanation for the Trump presidency that wasn’t misogyny, racism, and economic resentment, it read as a turning point in the crowd-sourced conspiracy investigation, a saving throw of sorts in the fight for democracy.
But Mensch and Taylor are now walking back some claims after the Guardian was contacted by a hoaxer fed up with the pair’s antics. The false tip alleged that Trump’s modeling agency was being investigated by authorities over concerns of sex trafficking. The hoaxer claimed to work with New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.
The source said that “Taylor asked no questions to verify my identity, did no vetting whatsoever, sought no confirmation from a second source — but instead asked leading questions to support his various theories, asking me to verify them.”
He asked things like, “Is there anything you have heard that’s really going to shock people? An ‘Oh my god!’ sort of thing?”
Taylor walked back the story earlier today.
Taylor also claimed on Twitter that someone from the Schneiderman office had reached out to inform him of the bogus claim, though his public disclosure on Twitter came only after the Guardian inquired. Louise Mensch, who is leveling similar allegations, claimed to have separate sources backing it up. The New York AG’s office stressed to the Guardian that readers should be discerning about where they get their news.